This paper is an attempted to highlight a holistic comparison for the marketing campaigns between one of the two most popular Social Networking web-Sites (here onwards SNSs) (1) www.Facebook.com (FB here onwards) and (2) www.MySpace.com (MyS here onwards) by means on studying the strengths and weaknesses in their customer approach. This paper mainly focuses on the study and comparison between three aspects of their marketing campaigns, (1) respective target market Segment of these companies, (2) Use of media or channel of communication used and (3) Image or UI (user interface of the web-site).
Social Networking Sites (SNSs):
There are as many definitions of the phenomenon called “Social networking”, as the huge number of different social networking platforms available today. However (Boyd and Ellison, 2007: P.1) articulates three fundamental characteristics of SNSs. (1) “web‐based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi‐public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system”. Thus we used the definition of SNSs given in the (Mintel report Social networking UK, 2008). Mintel defines social networks as “online communities in which people can share interests and activities. The sites generally provide a collection of various ways for users to interact through messaging, email, video, voice chat, and file-sharing, blogging and discussion groups”(ibid).
Throughout last decade due to the IT revolution, consistent growth in internet users all over the world (ibid), due to one's desires for self presentation/impression management, social competence/friendship performance and one's desire to demonstrate affiliation/association and social online interaction with popular people has fuelled evolution and growth of different SNSs (Chan. A, 2006, Boyd and Ellison, 2007).
History of SNSs can be trace back to 1997, when the first SNSs SixDegrees.com was launched (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). However the key businesses that shaped the SNSs business that we see today are Friendster, MyS and FB. Interestingly the history of SNSs suggest that so far no SNSs (except FB) has been able to embrace continuous growth and are vulnerable to range of technical, design and social issues which can turnaround the success of the company. Friendster the earlier success story in SNSs had lost its business after its quick success following its launch in 2002 to then rival MyS due to technical failure and due to its inability to handle the huge user traffic that it attracted immediately after its launch; causing frustration for its users. (Boyd and Ellison, 2007)
Benefited from the failure of Friendster.com MyS after its launch in 2003, rapidly gain ground by attracting the early users of Friendster and became a buzz word for “three distinct communities musicians/artists, teenagers, and the post‐college urban social crowd”(ibid). Due to rapid growth it reached to around 120 million users (Johnson B, Guardian : 2010) However post 2005 due to its design or UI (user interface) that allowed viewing and visits to any profile on MyS and its user policy, that allowed minors to be members of the website; it attracted serious allegations of interfacing sexual interaction between minors and adults (Schrobsdorff, S Newsweek: 2006; Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Lack of security, concerns over privacy and distrust in the web site and within its users, forced the members of MyS to leave or to switch to other web sites like FB,. This costs MyS to lose its momentum and users (Boyd and Ellison, 2007) which today countess to 100millions (http://www.myspace.com/pressroom?url=/fact+sheet/ 3/4/2010).
FB on the other hand began in 2004 and was exclusively launched to support distinct college networks. It's UI and user policy only allowed people with particular University/college emails to access profile of people belonging to that particular network. Giving FB more credibility and an image of secure and private SNS (Jamal and Cole, 2009; Jamal and Cole, 2009; Boyd and Ellison, 2007). This image helped FB to become the most popular SNSs today with400 million active users all over the globe (Naughton. J, Guirdian.co.uk: 2010). Today FB is ranked second in the world's top 500 web site with its close competitor MyS ranked 17th in the list (http://www.alexa.com/topsites/ 3/4/2010). However despite of its unchallenged market leader position the growing number of older generation members on FB poses a threat of eliminating its core youth segment and will pose a serious challenge for it in the future (Sutter. J, CNN.Com: 2009). Also failed launch of its marketing tool “Beacon” in 2007, which has attracted privacy concerns and negative press (Jamal and Cole, 2009) suggests that despite of its huge user base FB is vulnerable to any potential failure. On the other hand MyS has recently announced their revival plan and indication to fight back to gain market leader position (see (Johnson B, Guardian: 2010).
Thus in this context it becomes important to study the marketing campaigns of these two major SNSs and to study the potential strengths and weaknesses of their target segment, channel of communication and Image (UI and user policy). In the next section we will review the available literature relevant to these issues in detail.
1. Boyd, D. and Ellison, N. (2007), ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship', Michigan State University, P.1.
2. Chan, A. (2006), ‘Social Interaction Design Case Study: MySpace' , Social Interaction Design Case Study: MySpace DRAFT.
3. Jamal, A. and Cole, M. (2009), ‘A Heuristic Evaluation of the Facebook's Advertising Tool Beacon' Brunel University, West London, UK.
4. Jamal, A. and Cole, M. (2009), ‘RETHINKING PRIVACY IN SOCIAL NETWORKS: A CASE STUDY OF BEACON Brunel University, West London, UK (Naughton. J, Guirdian.co.uk: 2010)
5. Johnson, B. (2010) ‘MySpace bosses battle to oust Facebook from social networking top spot', http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/mar/15/myspace-social-networking/ 1/4/2010).
6. Mintel report Social networking UK, (2008), http://academic.mintel.com/sinatra/oxygen_academic//display/&id=394655/ 1/4/10 .
7. MySpace pressroom, http://www.myspace.com/pressroom?url=/fact+sheet/ 3/4/2010).
8. Schrobsdorff, S. (2006), ‘Predator's Playground', http://www.newsweek.com/id/47351/1/4/2010)
9. Sutter, J. (2009), ‘All in the Facebook family: older generations join social networks', http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/04/13/social.network.older/ 1/4/2010.
10. Top global websites. http://www.alexa.com/topsites/ 3/4/2010.